about the audiobook
Aah, the joys of being a contact tracer. Or as I like to call myself, the eternal bearer of bad news and mankind’s punching bag. When COVID-19 arrived, it hit the ground running. Only we didn’t realize it. It was a few months before the contact tracing initiative was instituted to ‘help control the spread’. It was a sunny afternoon in May when I read the job opening advertised in the local news. Like many others, I was stuck at home feeling caged and homicidal. My husband had been working from home precisely seventy-nine days, eleven hours, nine minutes, and counting.
Listen to a chapter read by the author Jude McLean
I hadn’t worked a regular job in over a decade, but I had to do something to keep myself out of prison. Don’t misunderstand, he’s a kind man, but I like my alone time. Any of you have a father that retired? Remember the day your mother called, begging you to find something for your father to do just so he would get out of the house and out of her hair? I was that wife, except we were all under instructions not to leave our homes unless absolutely necessary. I had gone from having ten hours a day all to myself to him always there. He set up his workstation in the dining room too, right in the center of the house. No matter where I went, he was there. Just hearing his typing echo throughout the place made me itch for the nearest blunt object. He didn’t deserve to be bludgeoned to death. So I immediately wrote up a resume and applied for the job. I had my first workday on June 1. It was training, fairly laid-back, easy enough. I would be required to take notes on each call and go through a questionnaire with every person. And it needed to be done with tact. I could do that.
All work is done from home, so I set myself up in our bedroom upstairs. All I needed was my laptop, a headset, and a notepad to take call notes. I write faster than I type. No need to keep these poor people on the phone any longer than absolutely necessary. It took less than a week to realize the tracing initiative was flying by the seat of its pants. The saying ‘who’s on first?’ was never more apt. Every day something was different, and I just had to roll with it. After all, I was getting paid decent money, and it was keeping me from the electric chair. So if they wanted me to think the night was bright and the day was dark, so be it.
Training was over, except we were told we would get to do mock calls so that we would get the hang of talking with people and going through the spiel. I never got to do even one mock call. There was no time when it was my turn. We had a surge in cases and calls needed to be made. Now. So I plugged my nose and jumped feet first into the deep end.
This book is a memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over time.
All names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated.
I was a wife and writer at home when the Coronavirus hit. My husband was suddenly working from home, and I couldn't get a minute's peace while I wrote. I was going crazy and contemplated homicide. So I took a job as a contact tracer. The work took me away from my novel Escape, but at least it kept me out of prison. The job led me to write the coffee table book Have you Got A Kitchen Table? It also led me to my brand manager and tea supplier, not to mention some dear friends. Talk about serendipity!
While Have You Got A Kitchen Table? is all true, Escape is a work of fiction. In both cases, I write the stories as best I can so others hear the characters, feel their emotions, and see their lives the way I do. In short, I let it rip and love every moment of it! I hope you do too.
- Jude McLean